Mention India and the next thing you know people are waxing eloquent about the chaotic and colourful bylanes of New Delhi, entering the iconic Taj Mahal for the first time, or going on a day trip to Jaipur. But there is so much more to travelling in India than visiting the Golden Circle on a whirlwind tour from New Delhi. The heterogeneity of travel experiences available in the country are bound to leave you spellbound. So we curated some of our favourite getaways in India for you. Here is a list of 10 of our favourite getaways in India – there’s something here for you, no matter what kind of traveller you are:
1) A Roadtrip in Sikkim
Glittering glacial lakes, endless pastures, waterfalls at every turn, quiet monastery towns, and scenic drives on some of the worst roads we’ve encountered on our travels made our trip to Sikkim an adventure we will NEVER forget. The state of Sikkim, nestled in the North Eastern part of India, isn’t exactly on the tourist radar. But it should be. The state has so much to offer to visitors. Towns such as Gangtok and Pelling have some gorgeous hotels and sights that ensure a memorable holiday. But the lack of infrastructure, especially in areas such as North Sikkim, make the journey challenging. This one is for those who are adventurers at heart. Read more details about our roadtrip in Sikkim before planning yours.
2) Flower fields in Karnataka
The Bangalore-Mysore highway is home to dozens of sunflower and marigold fields during summer months. You will see them lining both sides of the road as you drive from Mysore to the little village of Gundlupet. Take the cue when you spy an ochre patch hidden by swaying palm trees. As you tip-toe into it, expect to find a VAST expanse covered with hundreds of thousands of flowers – it’s hard to get enough of them.There truly is no wrong time to go explore the countryside of Karnataka, but if you want to catch the flowers in full bloom, visit between 1 June and 15 September.
Combine this experience with a smattering of street food in Mysore, a luxurious stay at a coffee farm in Coorg, beachside walks at Gokarna, or a stay by the majestic temples of Hampi depending on the time you have at hand. Tropical plantations punctuated with gold sunflower fields, modern highways flanked by marigold fields as far as the eye can see, neon green paddy fields surrounded by fragrant spice & coffee plantations- a getaway in Karnataka is ideal if you’re travelling with kids or craving a mix of comfort, luxury, and panoramas all at once. Read everything you need to know about planning a trip to Karnataka
3) A Whole New Way Of Seeing Taj Mahal
A list of Top 10 getaways in India would be incomplete without mentioning the iconic Taj Mahal. But it’s HOW you do it that matters.
It’s no secret. Visiting touristy places in India can be a bit of a sensory overload. This is nowhere truer than at a place that boasts of being one of the most visited and most photographed monument in the world – The Taj Mahal. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to avoid the crowds or enjoy the mighty Taj Mahal in ways that pay homage to the sheer splendour of the monument- you just have work that little bit harder. I won’t lie – in the process you might have to walk through grubby alleyways, mucky passages, or sit on rickety boats that could give way any second. But that’s how you find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You could admire the Taj Mahal from a boat, find hidden corners inside the actual monument, admire it from a hot air balloon, or get up at the crack of dawn for a stellar view of the facade. And when that happens, time stands STILL, it truly does. Read our article on 5 unique ways of photographing Taj Mahal here
4) Luxury and bohemia in Goa
With the influx of tourism to the coastal state, it’s become harder to escape crowds. But it’s easy to savour some truly unique & bohemian experiences on your holiday to Goa. We’d suggest booking a luxurious scenic hotel to start. We loved our time at Grand Hyatt Goa. Fill your days exploring the little known churches of Old Goa, the offbeat beaches of South Goa, shopping to your heart’s content, and lingering over meals in quaint bakeries and cafes. Read this detailed article on 5 of our favourite things to do in Goa
5) A historical city break in Rajasthan
One of our favourite things to do in India is to take a historical break, sprinkled with colour and shopping, in Rajasthan. Udaipur & Jodhpur are our personal favourites for a short break but you’re in for a treat, irrespective of the town or city you choose. Rajasthan is where picturesque lakes, handsome forts, imposing palaces, vast expanses of the Thar desert, bubbling pots of tea, and well …. stray cows jostle for attention. Spend your days walking through alleyways dripping with history, savouring delectable delicacies, admiring colourful Rajasthan fabrics swaying in the wind, and sharing tales with locals who greet visitors with huge smiles. Shop for colourful trinkets and scarves, go on a desert safari, or just go hunting for an abandoned fort or two
6) A unique vineyard stay in Maharashtra
Over the years, we’ve stayed in some great vineyard hotels in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, US, and even Peru. But last year, we stayed at a vineyard in India for the first time and had a great weekend. We spent languid days biking around Fratelli vineyards, making friends at the winery, observing the bottling process, driving around the Maharashtrian countryside, and most importantly, sampling an array of red wines, white wines, & rosé blends. If you visit the Fratelli vineyards, you must try the 2009 Sette, a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes. The months between August and March are ideal to visit these vineyards as they are LUSH green. But if you are flexible, then we would suggest visiting during harvest months (January- March). This is the BEST time to visit because the vineyards are laden with grapes and there are lots of events (grape stomping, wine master classes etc) scheduled for those months.
Undulating vineyards, memorable sunsets, nuanced wines, home-cooked Indian food, and boutique accommodation – a vineyard stay in Maharashtra makes for a short & affordable weekend getaway. Read all about planning a stay at Fratelli Vineyards here.
7) A Roadtrip To Ladakh
Ladakh is one of the most spectacular places on Earth and my personal favourite. It’s the land where barren landscapes are illuminated by the glimmering sun and monasteries dot the landscape. I love photographing Ladakh.
A road trip to Ladakh is no small feat- it is well and truly the stuff of dreams. Ladakh’s soundlessness, its cobalt blue skies, bright rainbows, and glistening lakes are pure magic. This road trip boasts of iconic landmarks such as one of the highest motorable roads in the world (Khardung La); some of the highest mountain passes in the world such as Zoji La and Tanglang La; splendid scenic drives in remote regions, and some little known gems such as the kaleidoscopic More Plains, Lamayuru, and the hypnotic Gata Loops !! We have a 4 part guide to Ladakh with all details about planning, packing, and budgeting on our website (link in bio), so I won’t go into logistics, but it is truly a road trip like no other. Read our detailed guide to planning this roadtrip to Ladakh here.
8) A Surreal Winter Holiday in Kashmir
During summer months orchards are in full bloom & hundreds of luscious red apples dangle precariously off trees. Juicy peaches are being harvested. Walnuts are beginning to ripen in a nearby field. Hyacinths, irises and amaranth flowers line roads that lead to snow-clad mountains. Elsewhere Kashmir’s iconic Chinar trees provide resplendent shade to passers-by. But we’d suggest visiting during quieter winter months for a stunning getaway that you’ll remember for a LONG time. That’s because Kashmir’s winter has an identity all its own. It enthrals and seduces in equal measures.
9) Exploring The Backwaters of Kerala
Book yourself a stay on a houseboat in Kumarakom, a great alternative to the crowded Alleppey. This is an experience like no other. When you’re booking, make sure you choose a TRADITIONAL houseboat fashioned out of reed, cork, and bamboo. Treat yourself to a canoe ride, a traditional Ayurvedic massage, or go-birdwatching Expect to spend your time sailing past duck farms, busy villages, and floating shops. Watch the sun set over the backwaters from the comfort of your houseboat and savour local delicacies such as Meen Pollichathu (grilled fish) or Karimeen curry (spicy fish curry), and Sadya (traditional vegetarian feast) as the day metamorphoses into night in front of your eyes. Spend evenings lounging on the boat while staring at the stars. Make the most of it as it will soon be time to drive out of Kumarakom
You can combine your visit to the backwaters with a visit to the beaches of Varkala or Kovalam, the tea estates of Munnar, or the spice plantations of Thekkady depending on your preferences and the time you have at hand. Brightly coloured houses, reticent but smiling locals, and low-lying clouds. undulating Tea Estates spread out as far as the eye can see, mystic spice plantations and coffee farms spread over acres – a trip in Kerala is a delightful assault to the senses – the colours, the smiles, and the landscapes are bound to leave the traveller in you reeling with JOY. We have a detailed itinerary of Kerala on our website if you want details about budgeting, planning, or driving in Kerala
10) A therapeutic glamping getaway
Let’s wrap up this list with an experience that offers a combination of everything we love in a holiday – remote panoramas, adventure, luxury, incredible scenery, and good food! We’ve visited dozens of glamping hotels and retreats all over the world. You know we love glamping, so we’ve had some crazy experiences involving teepees, tree-houses, tents, and refurbished motorhomes in so many different countries. But India has some of the MOST stunning and comfortable glamping sites in the world. You could choose one that tickles your fancy and suits your budget.
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh offer a variety of affordable glamping sites. For instance V Resorts Sariska is close to the Sariska Tiger Reserve and boasts of comfortable canvas tents, well equipped with all kinds of amenities- running hot water, showers, comfortable beds, power sockets etc. There is a small infinity pool and a great restaurant that serves piping hot food on site. If you want a glamping experience that is truly once-in-a-lifetime, check out The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC) in Ladakh. Glamping here is truly as INDULGENT as it gets – Persian rugs, heated tents, hot and cold showers, plug sockets, luxuriously-scented toiletries, ornate chandeliers, and a personal butler! Soul lifting scenery with blue lakes and white sands, beautiful mountains along with the most luxurious and lavish glamping tents made our stay here one of our most memorable ones yet. Where else in the world would you get a chance to relish pan-seared scallops on a bed of sundried tomatoes in the shadow of a gorgeous monastery and star-spangled sky? INCREDIBLE INDIA is the answer!
That’s it – 10 iconic and unique getaways in India that you must put on your bucket list. Enjoyed reading this? Do leave us a comment below and tell us if you’d like to see a Part 2 for this series 🙂